COUNTIES ‑- CONTRACTS ‑- COMPREHENSIVE PROCEDURES ‑- REAL OR PERSONAL PROPERTY
Extent to which chapter 36.34 RCW applies to the sale, lease or other disposition of county real or personal property in a county which has adopted its own comprehensive procedures for the management of county property under the provisions of chapter 196, Laws of 1973, 1st Ex. Sess.
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October 18, 1973
Honorable James E. Carty
301 Court House
Vancouver, Washington 98660
Cite as: AGLO 1973 No. 100
This is written in response to your recent letter requesting our opinion on several questions which we paraphrase as follows:
(1) Where a county acting pursuant to chapter 196, Laws of 1973, 1st Ex. Sess., establishes ". . . comprehensive procedures for management of county property . . . consistent with the public interest . . .," to what extent is that county therafter governed by the provisions of chapter 36.34 RCW with respect to the sale, lease, or other disposition of county real or personal property?
(2) Does the term "management" as used in chapter 196, supra, include matters pertaining to the sale, lease or other disposition of county real and/or personal property?
(3) What is meant by the phrase "consistent with the public interest" as also used in that 1973 act?
We answer these questions as set forth below.
Chapter 196, Laws of 1973, 1st Ex. Sess., which became effective on July 16, 1973, contains but a single section which reads as follows:
"Pursuant to public notice and hearing, any county may establish comprehensive procedures for the management of county property consistent with the public interest and counties establishing such procedures shall be exempt from the provisions of chapter 36.34 RCW: PROVIDED, That all counties shall retain all powers now or hereafter granted by chapter 36.34 RCW."
[[Orig. Op. Page 2]]
Chapter 36.34 RCW, to which reference is made in this act, is a compilation of numerous preexisting statutes (recodified in 1963 as §§ 36.34.010-36.34.310, chapter 4, Laws of 1963) relating to the sale or other disposition of county real and personal property and to the procedures to be followed in connection with such transactions.
A plain reading of the proviso appearing at the end of chapter 196, supra, leads one inescapably to the conclusion that the legislature's intent in connection with this recent act was as follows: A county which establishes ". . . comprehensive procedures for the management of county property consistent with the public interest . . ." will thereafter retain all of the powers granted to counties by chapter 36.34 RCW but will be exempt from the procedural restrictions of that chapter insofar as its exercise of those powers is concerned.
In view of the foregoing answer to question (1) and of the over-all scope of chapter 36.34 RCW, we have no doubt that the term "management" as used in chapter 196, supra, includes matters pertaining to the sale, lease or other disposition of county real and/or personal property.
Insofar as what would constitute "comprehensive procedures" which are "consistent with the public interest," we believe that the legislature had in mind procedures of the general type contained in chapter 36.34 RCW, although the specific procedures themselves are left to be determined by the legislative bodies of the respective counties. The purpose of imposing procedural constraints upon the manner in which municipal corporations manage and dispose of public property is, of course, the protection of the interest of the taxpaying public in such property. See, e.g., Carpenter v. Okanogan County, 163 Wash. 18, 299 Pac. 400 (1931), and authorities cited therein. By enacting chapter 196, supra, the legislature has authorized the removal of the specific procedural constraints of chapter 36.34 RCW, but has also required that those counties which desire to be relieved of those specific restraints must take affirmative action to establish procedural constraints of their own [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] creation which will accord protection comparable to, but not necessarily identical with, those of chapter 36.34 RCW. The specific types of constraints which will be "consistent with the public interest" are left to the legislative judgment of the boards of county commissioners,1/ and their decision as to what procedures are "consistent with the public interest" would be reversible only after a showing of manifest unreasonableness. Cf., Lenci v. Seattle, 63 Wn.2d 664, 667, 668, 388 P.2d 926 (1964).
We trust the foregoing will be of assistance to you.
Very truly yours,
DONALD FOSS, JR.
Assistant Attorney General
*** FOOTNOTES ***
1/See, Gregory Marina, Inc. v. City of Detroit, 378 Mich. 364, 144 N.W.2d 503, 517, 518 (1966) (Opinion of Kavanagh, C. J.).